After writing my post on the Witness a couple of days ago, I came across a wonderful post on Elephant Journal by Bernadette Birney that talks about the way that our stories affect our reality. In yoga, these stories we create for ourselves are known as Maya, often defined as illusion. Over time, our stories become our “truth” about ourselves and the world and these thought patterns become so ingrained in us that they literally re-pattern the structure of our brains, thereby altering our reality.
“Modern neuroscience tells us that every time we think a thought, a particular neural path is strengthened. The more times a mind travels a neural path, the more likely it is to travel that path again, and so a single thought becomes a tendency to think in a certain way. […] The structure of a brain is literally altered by the way it’s used. Therefore, I am both the shaper of my terrain, and the shape my experience takes—and so are you.” ~Bernadette Birney (emphasis hers)
I don’t know about you, but I find that to be both a bit scary and rather exciting. I’ve spent so much of life forming these stories unconsciously that the idea that these completely unconscious creations have dictated my reality is frightening!
On the other hand, as I work with my Witness to notice and observe my stories and decide which ones to keep and which ones to change, it gives me great hope that I can (and am) changing the nature of my reality on an ongoing basis for the better.
This post was a great synchronicity with the direction my thoughts have been going lately, and in that sense, it was a real encouragement. However, the biggest thing that I took away from her writing was that the point of the exercise is not to eliminate Maya or to find some way to be story-less.
“Maya is built in. There’s no getting rid of it, and you wouldn’t want to. The point isn’t to get rid of Maya; the point is to get good at it.” ~Bernadette Birney
Stories are necessary tools for processing the world around us. The key is to become such a good Witness as to become fully aware of my stories and to make conscious choices about which ones are serving me and which ones aren’t. Those that aren’t need to be replaced with more useful stories to re-pattern my brain and thereby improve my reality.
For me, this finally gives me a way to understand how we create our own reality. I’ve heard that phrase used for years, and it’s always sounded like hocus-pocus to me. This makes sense, though. Obviously we don’t control everything about our reality (I seriously doubt my thought patterns are able to control the weather!), but by changing the way we perceive our reality, we change the way we experience it, the way we react to it, and the way we interact with it, which influences our future reality.
And it still all comes back down to paying attention to the Witness who can show us our stories. Amazing stuff!
I wholeheartedly recommend reading her entire post, Maya Shakti: On Becoming a Demolitions Expert over on Elephant Journal.
A Note on Comments: A chrysalis is by nature a very fragile place, and it takes a good deal of vulnerability to share this personal journey of transformation so openly. Therefore, I need this to be a safe place for exploration and sharing for me and for my readers. Comments sharing your own journey, even if your experience is different from mine, are always welcome and encouraged. Expressions of support or encouragement are also welcome. Comments that criticize, disparage, correct, or in any way attempt to undermine the validity of another person’s experience or personal insight—or the expression of that experience or insight—are NOT welcome here and will be deleted.